Create product release notes is only useful if you've got something to write those release notes about. Here's 5 ways to stay motivated
Creating product release notes can be a daunting task. Getting to the point of being able to post those release notes is even more daunting. Creating a SaaS product is fraught with challenges and working out what to focus on during the development cycle can be intimidating, especially in the early stages before you have a critical mass of customers.
In today’s blog post we’re going to take a break from talking about release notes and move onto the actual development cycle.
When you’re working on the same thing day and night and you’re not getting the all so valuable customer feedback it can become incredibly demotivating. I’ve fallen into thinking that work is devoid of meaning, and pointless - something which can often be the death bringer to a new project. When I feel that starting to seep into my consciousness I quickly decide to look for a better or new way of doing something I’ve already worked on.
When you’re developing any product you will often find yourself looking back at what you created a few months ago and thinking to yourself that the work you’ve already done isn’t as good as your most recent work. Part of this seems to be reverse rose-tinted glasses, and another part is it’s likely true. When you start work on a project it can often be partly an experimental phase and leaving those early parts in that state can often become an emotional weight. Going back, in this case, can definitely feel like two steps back, but if it’s moving two steps back to put on some good shoes then it’s likely worth it.
You may not have many customers yet, but that doesn’t mean that communicating into the void is a bad idea to keep the motivation up. You will find that writing down what you have managed to do will in itself become a cathartic experience - and one that you can draw motivation from. When developing it can often become a subconscious experience - fingers to keyboard, brain engaged but not giving yourself any time to digest what you’ve created.
Writing down what you’ve managed to achieve will remind you that you are making progress. We did this with the early stages of ChangeCrab and without it I’d never have known just how much progress we were making daily. Whenever I was feeling down on the project I’d look at our release notes, knowing I was the only one reading them and managed to pick myself back up.
Of course, there are plenty of places you could write these notes about the product's developmental cycle - but I’d highly suggest using a tool that makes it easy to post release notes, which, hey what do you know - is what ChangeCrab does. Funny that.
If you’ve been working nonstop on a project for a long time it can be a while before the momentum builds behind it. While that momentum is building don’t feel pressured to be actively rolling out features every day - instead, find something else to create.
Now a lot of the time this could be a tool for the base product, for example with ChangeCrab we worked on the Wordpress plugin, and some backend improvements. These were not absolutely required for where we were in the development cycle but they became something of a useful distraction, taking us away for a brief period to recharge.
You could of course equally do something completely different - maybe not even programming, as long as you mentally can find it a productive task it will be a useful task. Go join a community and engage with some posts, or even go watch some YouTube tutorial videos.
If you’re reading this in the first half of 2021 - yeah I get it. Getting out of the house isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s as important - if not more important - than it has ever been. Exercise is proven to aid in mental well being and there is not a cure better for burnout than a simple walk.
You don't have to be a fitness god to benefit from a short sharp walk either. Trust me, I'm a few too many pounds above healthy, and yet I've never once gone for a walk and not felt more motivated when I return. It gives you time to breathe, but also stepping away from the screen can help you process the information you have already absorbed.
A walk is particularly useful in times where you've hit a roadblock. When you're sitting there at the computer and keep hammering away at a task you'll often be going round in circles making the mistakes over and over again. Sometimes an interruption is the best course of action.
Of course, there is no better motivator than having real people contact you and give you feedback, so make sure as many people as possible can see your work and be in a position to give you the feedback you so desire.
There are communities all around the web where you can share your progress, and ask for feedback. Reddit, HackerNews, and IndieHacker are all fantastic resources to go and get feedback. Just remember these are communities, not places to advertise - so engage and share your opinions on other people's posts also.
Ultimately development is always a challenge in the early days - but it also offers the maximum possibility to be creative and work outside of a fixed development cycle. Ensuring you keep up-to-date release notes can be a great way for your future customers to come back and explore the products' early life stages.
If you want to make the process of creating release notes easy then do check our ChangeCrab - a free release notes tool for SaaS and other companies.